Editor’s Note: Earlier we posted a guest blog from Joe Capobianco (Tattoo Coupons: Bad for Business). I encourage you to read both posts before firing off on anyone. I encourage you to read both posts before firing off  in the comments.


The current Republican primary has unraveled into hyperbolic absurdity, and as an outsider (a non-Republican), it is an amusing disaster to watch. Each statement a candidate makes is taken by his rivals and twisted so far out of context that its original meaning is completely lost before being used against him in stump speeches and misquoted in ads on TV. Although unfair and dishonest, it is a brutal election process with very high stakes. It’s not hard to see how respectable politicians can become childish and petty so quickly.

When similar name-calling and shit-talking eats away at your own community, though, it is far from entertaining. Every time something new is unveiled in the tattoo industry, there’s a thousand over-the-top opinions and judgements unleashed immediately. While you can find honest debate over relevant industry issues (i.e. licensing, safety, and equipment), it tends to be drowned out by the alarmist babble concerning the more insignificant happenings that don’t have a real effect on anything–or anyone.

The newest non-issue incurring the wrath of those who need to be heard is the offering of coupons for tattoo work on group discount websites like Groupon. These sites are a little too “thrifty suburban housewife” for me, but I hardly believe that the partnering of these sites with tattoo shops is going to destroy the tattoo industry as we know it. In fact, other shops using coupons probably won’t have any impact on established custom tattoo shops with existing clientele.

Tattoo customers have various ways of finding the type of artist or shop that best suits their purposes. Some people want a tattoo of something simple ASAP, and a normal street shop works fine for them. On the other side of the spectrum, a serious tattoo collector will want a specific artist’s work, and are willing to wait a year or more to get an appointment.

Between these two sides fall the rest of the tattoo shops, which range widely in quality, price, cleanliness and experience. In order to differentiate themselves from each other, shops use whatever marketing techniques are available to them. For the shops that don’t offer especially unique skills or styles that are competing with many other shops for the mid-grade type of customer (who might not know much about the tattoo industry) but does want a clean, friendly environment, coupons seem like an effective strategy.

The clients that search out specific artists and styles are looking for a higher quality of tattooing. They aren’t shopping based on price, they are educated about the tattoo industry and know what they are looking for. They often get larger pieces, have to travel to their artist and sometimes wait months (or longer) for appointments. None of these clients would be swayed by the coupons offered by local, unremarkable shops.

Mitt Romney never slammed Jon Huntsman or Rick Perry (even when they were twisting his words about wanting choices in his health care plan by repeating his “I like to fire people…” quote)… because he didn’t have to. The Perry campaign spent their time turning that unfairly edited quote into a ringtone for download on his website (and they did), but it wasn’t going to change the minds of Romney’s supporters. They knew the truth, and they also knew that neither Perry or Huntsman were a threat. They’ve both since dropped out of the race, after all. Mitt Romney has focused on running the best campaign he can, with little thought to the desperate moves taken by harmless opponents.

Tattooing will never be an industry without gritty parts and undesirable qualities. It certainly wasn’t founded on high principles of artistic merit, but has come a long way in a short amount of time. The best approach to having a more educated public is to promote the highest caliber of artists and shops through avenues such as TattooSnob and Tattoo Now, and to encourage all the positive efforts being made in the industry. This will more effectively contribute to the betterment of the tattoo community than the very public and negative infighting, especially concerning issues that have no real bearing on established artists.



–Guest blog by Shawn Hebrank

**** We’re looking for quality guest blogs from tattooers & enthusiasts–shoot us an email.

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